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Local businessman appointed to Rotary District Governor

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IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls businessman Russell Johnson was recently selected to become the Rotary 5400 District Governor in 2021-2022. Rotary Governors are selected by a group of past District Governors following recommendations from local clubs. They are then appointed by Rotary International two to three years prior to taking office. District Governors and are looked upon for leadership, support and motivation as they carry out service projects and participate in Rotary programs. There are more than 35,000 Rotary clubs spanning the globe.

Johnson joined the Rotary Club 26 years ago. He was initially attracted to the organization for its consortium of higher-tier business professionals but quickly learned the impact Rotary clubs have locally and nationally.

Johnson states, “My favorite part of Rotary is the significant impact clubs like the Idaho Falls club have on a global scale, while still providing significant local improvements to our own hometown, including our extensive River Walk and Greenbelt improvements.”

Two particular international projects that profoundly affected Johnson were Rotary’s relief efforts for Tokaimura, Japan after its 2011 tsunami. In only 60 days, the club generated $30,000 in grants and donations to send solar-powered generators to Japan. In 2014, when Johnson was the President of the Idaho Falls Rotary Club, the club conducted a food packing project for earthquake-devastated Haiti. Partnering with Rotary International and local potato distributors and organizations, the club sent 1 million meals to Haiti.

“Like the solar-powered generators, Johnson seeks project approaches that provide sustainable outcomes,” states Public Image Coordinator for Rotary Zone 27, Michela Swarthout. The Idaho Falls Rotary Club raised funds to purchase the costly equipment necessary to run a mobile dental unit. “Operated by dedicated area dental professionals, the unit is still offering free dental services to rural areas such as Salmon, Challis, Idaho Falls and Rexburg today,” explains Swarthout.

Outside of the Rotary Club, Johnson also participates in many local boards, committees and projects. In 2017, Johnson was the Board Chairman of the 2017 Extreme Blue Thunder Air Show featuring the US Navy Blue Angels. While airshows across the nation typically break even or even lose money, under Johnson’s direction the Idaho Falls show was a huge success, profiting $120,000 – money that went right back into the area. Twelve $10,000 grants will awarded to local charity organizations across a six-county region.

So what’s in store for Johnson’s ’21-’22 Governor appointment? Johnson states, “I want to be remembered for leading an organization that is forward-thinking and maintains the heritage of its past. I want our Rotarians to impact the world quicker and better, and to bring in younger and motivated membership. My key word is ‘engagement,’ for both members and non-members.” He muses, “I’m a fun, regular guy who just wants to have fun with all Rotarians.”

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